Oil on RayMar panel, 12 x 9″ (Click to see larger)
This is my first “official” plein air oil painting that I did at the Berkeley Marina this morning where I joined a group of local plein air painters. I’m so thrilled to have found them. We met at 10:00 and then went off to to paint in different spots, getting together again at 1:00 for a lively critique. I got some very useful suggestions (e.g. adjust the bottom line of the boats is straight across the canvas so adjust to more of a diagonal slantig down to the left). I noticed that very problem when I was working out my preliminary thumbnail/value sketches but I momentarily forgot about artistic license and left it as I saw it instead of changing it for a better composition.
Although I felt shy about being so unskilled at oils and plein air painting I felt very welcomed by the group. It was a beautiful sunny (but cool and windy) day in Berkeley with the usual assortment of nuts, hikers, bikers, families and local characters passing by who all stopped to offer supportive comments or tell me about an artist they know or have seen before. I was so pleasantly suprised — not one person said, “Ewwww! What a bad painting!” or laughed at me. I didn’t worry about that with watercolor but somehow with an easel and all the trappings I felt like I stood out more.
This is my new Guerilla Painter 9×12″ Pochade Box Plein Air Easel set up and I love it! It holds almost everything needed for painting plein air and is sturdy and super fast and easy to set up. I’ve never been so impressed with a company’s customer service as I had at Judson’s Plein Air either. I had a million dumb questions in trying to decide whether to buy this “cigar box” style easel or a french easel or a Soltek (which I couldn’t afford anyway) and when I called (twice) I spoke to Monica, who patiently answered every question, gave great advice, way above and beyond the usual which was so appreciated by this novice plein air painter.
The box is incredibly well made, really beautiful and makes setting up to paint, painting and carrying wet canvases a cinch. They also offer watercolor and pastel and acrylic versions of this box in various sizes. The tripod has a quick release so you just set the box on it and it clicks into place, and is very sturdy. It has separate adjustments for height and leg spread (far apart for windy, rough, or uneven conditions). It comes with an attached “stone bag” (the black thing at the bottom) for putting something heavy on it to weigh it down (only necessary for gale force winds, I’d think because it was windy today and nothing budged or wiggled). Their Mighty-Mite Brush washer jar is also wonderful. It fits in the box and doesn’t leak like every other container for mineral spirits I’ve found. The palette is in just the right spot as is the canvas with this box. I bought the plastic covered palette accessory which is a good addition. As someone who really appreciates good tools, I couldn’t be happier.
In the picture above on the right is my shopping cart I use for carting my plein air supplies around. It’s pretty practical although stuff can fall out the open spaces and picking it up is tricky since it tries to fold in on itself. I’ve ordered two different closed wheely carriers and when I get them will compare them all and pick the best for my purposes.
Above are the tools I used to make my preliminary thumbnail composition and value sketches. I recently discovered wonderful Copic markers–they’re fabulous — no smell and they blend and go on like silk. This handy composition/value finder can be opened to a marked setting for the size of paper or canvas. Then you close one eye and look through it to decide what to put in your composition. It’s middle gray so that you can also compare colors to it to determine if they’re darker or lighter. I used its opening to trace the rectangles in my Aquabee sketchbook so that the thumbnails would be the same dimensions as my canvas.